Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 23, 2005 / 21 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

Saving newspapers from their owners

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The question is: Do Americans really want to live in a world without newspapers?


If you're reading this, chances are good you don't. Yet almost daily we read reports of more buyouts and budget cuts at America's papers owing to fewer readers.


Newsrooms, now cubicled and corporatized, have become the morgues they so closely resemble, filled with ghosts of the departed and those who await the next ax to fall. Who's next? A copy editor here, a columnist there, or — most endangered of all — a cartoonist?


Nearly all corporately owned papers have suffered in recent years as profit margins have dropped along with circulation and advertising. Talk is that Knight Ridder, one of the largest newspaper chains, may be sold in the near future. The Tribune Company, which owns both my home paper, The Orlando Sentinel, and my syndicate, Tribune Media Services, is making tough calls across the board.


The Tribune Company has been hit by both lower-than-usual profits and, most injurious, a circulation scandal that cost the company a bundle. At two of the company's newspapers, Newsday and Hoy, Tribune Co.'s Spanish-language paper, circulation figures upon which advertising rates are primarily based were exaggerated.


Tribune has set aside $90 million to settle with aggrieved advertisers. Combine that kind of wound with consumer trends away from newspapers toward other media and the question of survival becomes urgent.


The solution to stanch bleeding has been predictable and, if you're of a certain business mind, logical. When revenues go down, the calculator crowd reasons, you cut costs. But to those in the trenches, cutting staff is exactly the wrong solution, more like a self-inflicted wound trending toward suicide than a remedy.


By cutting newsroom staffs, the corporate suits are reducing the likelihood that papers can do what makes them necessary. And they are necessary, a point too many seem to be missing.


As much as we've heard about the slow death of newspapers — "mainstream media," as disaffected bloggers like to call us — we've heard little about why this is no cause for celebration. A so-called "victory" for the blogosphere vis-a-vis declining newspaper readership is very much a defeat for the freedoms we take for granted.


Newspapers serve their communities in ways that can't be replicated by bloggers — noble-spirited, smart and entertaining as many often are — or by anyone else. They not only help define a given community, but also serve as both government watchdog and information conduit. They have the resources to investigate, to report, to inform as no other entity can, does or will.


Of course, newspapers also have a duty to be reliable, accurate, interesting and entertaining — no small feat and nearly impossible as resources dwindle. Thus, instead of cutting where it counts to satisfy shareholders, corporate honchos should be infusing newsrooms with more money to hire more staff — especially those who give newspapers their soul, their personality, their "thing."


One of the most controversial cuts in recent weeks was the firing of columnist Robert Scheer and editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez at the L.A. Times, a Tribune paper. Scheer's departure has been explained as the result of the new editorial page editor's shuffling voices.


But there's no satisfactory explanation for why Ramirez won't be replaced. The decision to eliminate the in-house cartoonist symbolizes a lack of understanding among those who hold the purse strings about what's needed to save newspapers. Cartoon and column space can be filled with syndicated material, but the human quality is diminished when a paper's own in-house voices are lost to the cost-cutting void.


Not long ago, when you said Chicago, you thought "Royko," for example. In the Carolinas as I was coming along, no cartoonist was better known than The Charlotte Observer's Doug Marlette for his skewering of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker. He won a Pulitzer for his troubles.


What made people like Royko and Marlette distinctive, besides their talent, was that they belonged to their communities, not just their newspapers. They wrote and cartooned about local issues that affected readers' daily lives, not just national topics of general interest. Readers felt connected to them and, therefore, to their newspapers.


They picked up the paper each day just to see what those guys were up to. They might even bump into them at the local pub.


Twenty years ago there were 200 staff political cartoonists compared with fewer than 90 today. As corporate bean counters look for new cuts, they might consider that there's a connection between the hemorrhaging their shareholders feel and the bloodied newsrooms they're leaving behind.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.

Kathleen Parker Archives

© 2005, Tribune Media Services

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles